Warm air, infrequent rain, and wispy yellow clouds of Juniper pollen have officially ushered in a new spring and soon-to-be summer season. Long gone are the days of waiting for and ultimately never getting snow, and welcome are the dusty and sun-stroked mornings, noon and nights of another trail-shredding, berm-busting mountain biking season.
Over the last few years Bend has gained national, if not international, recognition as a premier mountain bike destination. Directly from town, Bendites and Bendite wannabes have an endless series of seemingly desultory interconnected trails, something akin to a broken etch-a-sketch, that allow for any rider to create and pursue their own ultimate ride.
Few know the trails and the diverse groups of people who use them as well as co-owners and cycling enthusiasts Melanie Fisher and Lev Stryker from Bend's Cog Wild Bike Tours and Shuttles. Owners since 2006, Fisher and Stryker have a finger on the pulse of mountain biking's increasing popularity.
"Bend is an outdoor mecca and one reason is because the mountain biking terrain is incredibly unique and Bend has embraced the fact that it is a mountain biking destination," says Fisher.
Cog Wild has paid close attention to the increased popularity and widening demographic interest in mountain biking and built its growing business on the notion that any rider of any skill level should have the chance to experience the joy of mountain biking.
"We offer tours for everyone, from beginners and families to expert riders who want to get to the best trails and chase a guide. And we love when riders finish our tours with huge smiles, hungry for more," says Stryker.
"It's very important to us to give every rider a great experience. We make sure our guides are more than skilled riders but also informed stewards of the environment and that they are wilderness first aid trained," says Fisher. "We have 'guide rides' where our guides share their favorite routes with each other in order to enhance the quality our guiding services."
Each Cog Wild tour begins at the office located just above Pine Mountain Sports. Guests are first properly fitted for their bikes—either rented from one of Bend's many bike shops or from Cog Wild—and then complete a quick survey about their cycling background. A Cog Wild guide does an initial assessment to guarantee that when the trail is chosen it caters to the skill and fitness level of each rider.
"After a quick shuttle up to one of the upper trailheads, Wanoga, Swampy Lakes, or Dutchman, our guides design the route for the day based on who they are riding with and the condition of the trails," says Stryker. There are half and full-day rides and full-service multi-day vacation or multi-day camping rides that can include transportation to and from the airport, hotel accommodations, meals, and of course expert guiding on custom designed routes.